Monday, 19 January 2015

SYNAPSE CIRCUIT NEXUS 6 REVIEW

Above: The Nexus 6 by Google. Made by Motorola. Be in awe. Be very awed!

SYNAPSE CIRCUIT
THE DEFINITIVE NEXUS 6 REVIEW

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Goodhour, Synapse Circuit Readers! I hope you are in the best of health and that you are making the most out of your tech! Jeez, Louise! It is freezing cold tonight here in London – it’s minus 5! Well, I guess I should be thankful I am not in Canada for example!

Hey, are you about to upgrade? Are you thinking about the Nexus 6? Well, you are in luck! Here’s probably the best review you’ll ever read on it!

#Google #Nexus6 #In6 #Android5 #Lollipop #AndroidLollipop

THE GREATEST
Yes, the Google Nexus 6 is HUGE!!! If you are not used to a phablet it may take some getting used to – especially if you are coming off a Nexus 5 or a similarly sized handset. I am used phablets having reviewed a few in my time – notably the Galaxy Note series and the Acer Liquid S1. I personally LOVE BIG ANDROID PHONES!

If you don’t like the idea of having a phablet I really do recommend that you should try it for a couple of weeks as I am sure that by the end of week 1 you will either love it or hate it. The Galaxy Note series of handsets never disappointed because they were and still are fast! Let’s say you don’t like TouchWiz on ‘em you can use a launcher and the Galaxy Note handsets remain punchy! However, the Acer Liquid S1 wasn’t so fluid; the feeling was the opposite of what you’d imagine with the term “liquid”. Liquid Sludge 1? However, the first impression with the Nexus 6 was quite shocking in a positive way because it is greased lightning! I can understand to a degree why Android fanatics prefer a vanilla, pure un-skinned Android on their handsets! At first the Nexus 6 felt like I was trying to stand up whilst slipping on ice!

Let’s talk about the physicality and design...

LOOK & FEEL
As the Nexus 6 has been manufactured by Motorola the outlook is that of an enlarged second generation Moto X. Faced up it looks very much like what it is: a monolithic rectangular slab of onyx. At the back it has a smooth plastic back with the Motorola “M” logo circularly indented and above it is the 13MP camera lens and concentric LED flash!  Oh, below the “M” logo is the “Nexus” logo in silver. Very, Sci-Fi-like! The Nexus 6 is beautifully framed with aluminium and my midnight blue aluminium looks very otherworldly! The other colour choice is white. It looks good too!

PREMIUM BONDING
Last year I spend some time conversing with reasonable and unreasonable iPhone fanatics that are more or less justifying the high cost to them as consumers for the materials the iPhone is made out of (glass and aluminium) but I pointed out to them that these materials are subject to vulnerability. Glass shatters (as it does on all phones) and metal dents. Sensible iPhone owners place it in a protective case whereby the “beauty” is hidden and therefore it defeats the purpose.

The Nexus 6 feels very premium – even though the back is made from plastic! In other worlds Motorola has shown that a premium handset does not have to have an all metal unibody! However, it makes me ask: Why not make the back of the Nexus 6 out of aluminium since the battery cannot be removed? The answer most likely comes down to price! I look at the Galaxy Note 4 and I thank Samsung for the removable battery!

FIRST NIGGLE
The Nexus 6 should have ideally featured a removable battery! I forgot to mention that the back is curved and that will make it pretty much impossible to gesture type when it is lying flat on a surface and because the back is impractical for typing then Motorola could have made the battery removable! It’s a big handset and it would have been handy to be able to swap out the battery.

You would probably want to get a protective case for this big baby! You would want to protect the 5.96 screen and the flip case will certainly obscure the beauty of the Nexus 6 back!

SCREEN
The quad-HD screen is good but on the dull side but in the settings that can be changed by turning off “Adaptive Brightness”. That said the Adaptive Brightness setting is not as bad as I initially thought because the screen can be softened, so to speak, when watching / reading content at night with the lights off! The Galaxy Note 4 screen is the best of all the smartphones on the market today!

SONIC POWER
On the front of the Nexus 6 lays the stereo speakers that have some kick to them; they are delightfully loud and very clear! The tones are a little bit on the tinny side but you can hear bass and mid tones quite well. I call this non-symmetrical design “forehead and chin” whereby the top speaker sits at the top which is larger than the bottom of the handset where the second speaker resides – the chin!

SOME FRONT: THE FRONT-FACING CAMERA
SECOND LITTLE NIGGLE

The front-facing camera is 2MP and by today’s standards it’s quite weak! Really and truly, a handset of this stature should be fronting a 5MP at least! As it stands the 2MP is okay and is quite grainy as you can probably imagine. It’ll do for video chat and the occasional selfie! Is the 2MP a means to keep the costs down? I really don’t know... ...front-facing cameras on many handsets these days are coming in at larger MegaPixels that are quite cost effective! A little disappointed there!

When you put a handset this size in front of people you ought to go to town a bit with the hardware features and this is one area that looks like one of those muscle builders that have spent more time on the arms than the legs! Hmmmmm... Not a good look... Of course, you can’t see that from looking at the Nexus 6!

MAIN CAMERA
The main camera is 13MP and is very much similar – if not the same – as found on the second generation Moto X! The LED, as described above, is circular around the lens that should give a balanced picture.

It kinda hard and pretty much self-defeating to write reviews on a main camera... Why? I am glad you asked! I am finding that with handset cameras it is about having options in the form of predefined scenes such as:

Portrait
Sports
Night
Macro

The Nexus 6 is a pure Android experience and therefore it lacks these option modes as you will find on something like the Galaxy Note 4. It’s very odd that some reviewers complain or assert that a range of options can be a pain for the user as I find that these modes are the ones that you will find on a digital camera! For me, these modes are essential to find the right settings for the picture that I want to take!

The 13MP on the Nexus 6 is very good and it is quite fast in focusing but I feel you are going to take a bit of time to set it up in a situation... For example, it has an effective HDR+ setting that does an effective job of making a moderately unlit scene / object appear as though a flash was used. Using the flash on the same scene / object was quite good – the result wasn’t a typical wash of light; the concentric LED flash is effective!

But where the Nexus 6 13MP camera trips up is that when the light is uneven it has difficulty in finding focus. The 1080p video is very good (when the lighting is even) as is the 4K recording which takes up some serious storage. Which brings me to...

...THIRD LITTLE NIGGLE
There is no storage expansion to take advantage of the 4K video recording mode. For some reason the person behind the functionality of Android and the Nexus range of handsets, Matías Duarte, is of the opinion that a microSD card functionality confuses Nexus users that aren’t technology savvy. Something stinks about that sentiment! For a start many o’ luddites that yielded to the digital camera and I bet it didn’t take long before they were taking pictures directly to the SD card! And if the consumer ever had a handset from a manufacturer that made a microSD slot a feature then I am certain that even the most non-technical person worked out why he / she was getting “Low Memory” warnings due to not allowing the camera to take and store pictures and video directly to the microSD card! If you can read you can figure it out!

But the main reason why Google, Matías Duarte, does not want you to use a microSD card is because they (Google & Matías Duarte) want you to use Google Drive! When you use the camera for the first time it asks you if you want to start using Auto Backup to Google Cloud Drive. It does work in principal but you’d have to transfer from the internal storage to the cloud Drive. Whereas I think it would have been better to be able to record video, for example, to a high speed microSD card and transfer the recordings to Google Drive for backup! I say, “Give the consumer options!” Anyway, there are a bunch of cloud storage options from Microsoft and Dropbox. I wonder when someone will hack into a Google Drive to reveal celebrity nude photos... Hmmmmm... I wonder... Yeah, I am still the kind of person to backup the contents of my microSD card to a DVD or Bluray disc! Plus I find it so easy to insert the microSD card (with an SD card adapter) and bring a video clip into my video editor! This is why I would prefer Google and Matías Duarte to recant this “say no to microSD card” stance!

FOURTH BIG NIGGLE
Google has kindly given us a bunch of lovely productivity applications such as Doc (Word Processor), Slides (PowerPoint Presentations) and Sheets (Exel)! That’s all well and good but now that we have been enjoying full HD and now 4K video recording it is about time that Google gave us a decent video editing app! There used to be ‘Movie Studio’ but I do not see it anymore! Every time I download and install a video app I have to uninstall it because either the quality is appalling and / or it’s bloody in-app purchases! In-app purchase = dodgy. I am not saying that the makers of apps that have incentives to make you keep buying add ons are dodgy! No! I am saying, me, Synapse Circuit, that I want the option to purchase everything I need in one go! I find in-app purchasing apps annoying! You’ve paid for an app thinking, “Yes! I can get productive now!” only to find that the feature(s) come at an extra cost! Did I say I don’t like it? “I don’t like it!”

IT’S IN MY HANDS
It’s no point me telling you that I had no problems with handling the big Nexus 6, which by the way, is a little shorter than the Acer Liquid S1, because my hands aren’t the same as yours! Simple! Try telling that to Apple (yes, I am referring to the stupid iPhone ad that goes on about 4.5” being the ideal for your hand)!

You will have to use two hands to operate it, for the most part, effectively. I would certainly recommend a protective case for it as it helps to make the photo taking experience stress free from the fear of it slipping out of your hands. It’s not exactly slippery as it is such a big phone that it demands firm handling.

LOLLIPOP: ANDROID 5
WEIRDOID: Somebody told me that because of Lollipop’s use of primary colours that Android 5 is “like an operating system made for a child”. Another weird thing this somebody said, at the same time, that he took his Galaxy Note 4 back in exchange for and iPhone 6 Plus... Okay, we’ll get to those in a bit... Oooh, yes!

Personally, I think the latest version of Android, 5, Lollipop is great! I don’t mind the use of primary colours as these lovely colours look great on the big quad-HD 5.96” AMOLED screen! I love that the Google apps are colour coded! I’m a Rainbow Child! Lol! The main purpose of the operating system, if you didn’t know, is to enable the user to perform a task or tasks as quickly as possible! Android does that; it allows me to do what I want without aggravation. If I want to open up Chrome to go web surfing it just takes one click! Or let’s say I’m Facebook and I click on a link to a website: if I have another browser I am asked to make a choice of browser. I can bypass the feedback by clicking on Chrome and / or I can make going to links via Chrome, for example, permanently. With the iPhone iOS it wants me to stay in Safari! Similarly, if I wanted to share media or web link it is so very easy in Android and not so with iOS. Not to mention that Android apps have no problem taking advantage of the beautiful 5.96” quad-HD screen!

Android 5, Lollipop is, again, so very, very smooth! No lag! It’s just a satisfying operating system and is, quite rightly, the best in the world!

Oh, I did get a message to upgrade to Android 5 Lollipop 5.0.1 and I can’t say that I have experienced any bugs yet! I will look out for them! I guess there will be some bugs as you’d expect with a new operating system version like with any operating system! Google are usually quick to issue updates to correct anything major!

SHARE THE LOVE
Another great aspect of Android 5 Lollipop is that it allows you to set-up guest users to the handset, Nexus 6, and I am sure that this feature will be enabled when it reaches other devices. Anyway, if you, let’s say for example, let your child or children use your phone to play games, etc you will feel a lot better when they use it as a guest! As a result they can’t access other aspects of your phone!

“Dad, that’s not a picture of Mommy!”

“Mom! He’s half your age!”

No more of that! Hahaha!

GALAXY NOTE 4 & iPHONE PLUS 6?
Let’s get things straight!

1. Google isn’t going to put out a handset that will upset Samsung’s King of the Phablet market. The Nexus 6 doesn’t do any fanciful tricks that you will find on the irrepressible Galaxy Note 4! The Galaxy Note 4 is crazy mad with multiple windows, S Pen and heart rate monitor to say the least! The Nexus 6 is just a nice big handset to do things simply but effectively! You could say that it is pretty much like the Galaxy Note 4 stripped down with the exception of the screen as Samsung has placed the best screen on a smartphone on the Galaxy Note 4 - 5.7" 515 ppi pixel density to the Nexus 6 5.96" 493 ppi pixel density! You do notice a difference when placed side by side but that is the, some would say, oversaturated nature of Samsung’s premium handsets! Still, the Nexus 6 screen is a joy!

2. The Nexus 6 is a totally different handset to the iPhone 6 Plus! Different operating systems, different ecosystems and the Nexus 6 outclasses the iPhone 6 Plus in terms of design. Come on... ...I know you’d jump off a cliff for Tim Cook and friends but before you go you have to acknowledge the quad-HD screen on the Nexus 6! Good! Then there are the gorgeous front-facing stereo speakers! Android 5, Lollipop just flows... ...it allows you to do what you want when you want! Again, it features productivity apps that output to Mac and PC compatible software formats so you are not a slave to these computing platforms! I do think that Android is better than iOS! Look! I am, when I am not writing, a consumer. I have tried the iPhone and it doesn’t resonate with me. As much as I do appreciate the snappiness of the operating system I do find that it betrays the idea productivity when it locks you into the Apple (iTunes & Safari) experience!

I know that I can watch a 4K video on YouTube on my Nexus 6 and Galaxy Note 4. Can I do this on the iPhone 6 Plus?

GEE, TOUCHWIZ
As much as I LOVE pure Android it doesn’t mean to say that I don’t appreciate TouchWiz! Again, if it weren’t for Samsung, Android wouldn’t have taken to the mainstream like it has! Samsung has taken Android and has done marvellous things with it! Let me put it another way...

When I am using my Galaxy Note 2, 4 and Galaxy S4 my mindset adjusts to what these beasts can do! And when I am using the Nexus 6 I adjust to what it is about. In fact, because the second generation Moto G is like a Nexus 6 mini I don’t have any issues at all with the Nexus 6. Yes, the second generation Moto G Android 4.4.4 isn’t all that different from Lollipop; one of the things that Android 4.4.4 doesn’t have is the tabs when multitasking.

Pure Android & TouchWiz are like Yin & Yang. But that is my take on it! If you have tried a Samsung handset and did not like the TouchWiz overlay then I am sure that you will be bowled over by Android 5 Lollipop!

CONCLUSION
The battery life is good but, as you know, when you start to use any handset the battery soon drains! So, if you are an intensive user i.e. you watch a lot of videos, play lots of these big 3D games, take pictures, etc you will find that you can get a day’s usage out of it! I do think that Google, Motorola (now Lenovo Motorola) should put out a compatible USB power pack that we connect to Motorola devices such as the Nexus 6. Yes, there are USB power packs out there but I only trust gear for use with my handsets if they come recommended by the manufacturers! Me? If it was the Galaxy Note 4 I’d buy another battery! That’s the thing to consider if the Nexus 6 is going to be your main handset! Dare I say it but as Android 5 Lollipop keeps getting updated it could improve the battery life!

The battery charger that it comes with enables fast charging. However, as soon as you start using the handset the battery drains just as quickly! So, put it on charge for a couple of hours or so! I have found that the longer you leave the Nexus 6, when you first get it, to charge the longer the duration! You will do well to download a battery management app just so you know when the Nexus 6 has charged up fully! It features a battery saving mode that practically turns of all the apps in the background i.e. your apps won’t sync so don’t get to receive message and email notifications, for example, until you open these applications. Hmmmm... I am not too sure about that... I think Motorola ought to give us that USB battery pack! Lol!

I LOVE the Nexus 6 and would recommend it to anyone looking for a fantastic big quad-HD screen handset for both productivity and leisure!

6 REASONS TO GET THE NEXUS 6

1. If you are a fan of Blade Runner the movie the Nexus 6 shares its name with a superior batch of humanoid androids known as Replicants. Now that the silly-cool reason is out of the way...

2. Android 5 Lollipop in its purest! It is beautiful! Wonderful responsiveness! I reckon Usain Bolt will have a bit of trouble keeping up with it!

3. The awesome quad-HD screen is great for video, web surfing, game playing and productivity!

4.
If you are making music using Caustic or G-Stomper Studio you are going to LOVE the front-facing stereo speakers!

5. The Guest User mode is great!

6. The overall design and build is solid! No! The back of my Nexus has not come undone! Unlike the iPhone the Android handset designs keep getting better and the Nexus 6 is a great example!

So, there you have it!

AND NOW FOR A BIT OF IMPORTANT SPEC:-

DISPLAY      
AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
5.96 inches (74.1% screen-to-body ratio)
1440 x 2560 pixels (493 ppi pixel density)
Multitouch
Corning Gorilla Glass 3

OS     
Android OS, v5.0 (Lollipop)

CHIPSET     
Qualcomm Snapdragon 805

CPU  
**Quad-core 2.7 GHz Krait 450

GPU  
Adreno 420

MEMORY / STORAGE
No microSD card slot
Internal storage: *32 / 64GB,
**3GB RAM

CAMERA      
Primary 13 MP, 4128 x 3096 pixels, autofocus, optical image stabilization, dual-LED (ring) flash
Features: Dual recording, geo-tagging, touch focus, face detection, photo sphere, panorama, HDR
Video: 2160p@30fps, optical stabilization
Secondary: 2 MP

*The Nexus 6 unit reviewed featured 32GB storage.

**The Quad-core 2.7 GHz Krait 450 is the one as found in the Galaxy Note 4 and it also has 3GB of RAM. Make no mistake, they are FAST!

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